Friday, 9 December 2011

No More Nightmares

ClickFree C6COLLEAGUES will know that I have never been too fond of the Windows operating system, which has always left me stranded at the most inappropriate times. My worst experience was back in the nineties when I was revising my first book, and it is that memory that continues to haunt me whenever I have a deadline to meet. I distinctly remember the dark screen, the whirring of the hard drive, and the complete failure of my emergency floppy disk to bring the hardware back to life.

I had thought that things were getting better in the Microsoft camp. I have been running Windows 7 for some time now, and have been suitably impressed at its ability to recover from the odd glitches that still appear at times; but recently I was forced to reinstate a system image when a Belkin mini Bluetooth adaptor failed to properly install -- and somehow managed to corrupt Outlook. (Needless to say, the MS Office Repair feature did nothing to cure the problem).

Fortunately I still had the OS running, so restoring my drive was not a problem; but, after the data had been reinstated from a system image, Windows decided to inform me that it had been unable to reinstate the system files – despite the fact that they were being backed-up, along with everything else, every Friday evening; and that Windows had never complained after apparently verifying that each backup task had been successful.

I had been cursing Belkin for not supplying a Windows 7 driver for their hardware; but now I found I was cursing myself for trusting the Microsoft backup utility. The last thing I needed was to find that I could not reinstate the system and all my programs should the need arise.

The problem was a pressing one; because, as it happens, I am in the middle of authoring another tome with a specific deadline to meet. If Windows should again let me down, I can ill afford the valuable time spent reloading the system and all my programs by hand – and then spending further hours, online, updating them all to their present versions.

‘Why,’ I asked myself, ‘does some enterprising company not produce a small, portable box that you can just plug-in to the USB port and have it backup everything on your hard drive without relying on bloody Windows?’

Well, surprise, surprise, a US company does! And its product does not need any help from Windows to reinstate everything either!

The product is called the Clickfree C6, and comes in 500GB and 1TB versions (I opted for the latter due to the enormous size of my photo files). It is not a cheap option when compared to a simple removable hard drive – and the other drawback is that you cannot (yet) get it over here. PC World actually stock some Clickfree products; but not this latest version of the company’s superb technology.

I ordered the $179.99 version on Clickfree’s web site; but it was not programmed to deal with shipping charges to the UK. That was no problem, however; because the next day I received an email advising me that shipping would cost an extra $35 – and politely asking if I wished to go ahead with my purchase.

Well, of course I did, and provided them with my credit card details again (because they do not retain that information on their system) – and 48 hours later my sleek, black, portable Clickfree C6 arrived with a complimentary case.

It is just a shiny black box, with a lead that connects it to the computer’s USB port. And that is all you need to know. I plugged in the lead, watched Windows install the on board driver – and then went back to writing my book.

Over the next four hours, before I took a break, the box’s blue light just flashed comfortingly as my 500GB main drive, and its additional 500GB partition, was fully backed up. My total stored data count came in at around 300GB; and since the backup appears to be conducted in sector reads (rather than relying on Window’s nefarious file system) I reckon that to be reasonably fast.

Subsequent backups, of course, only record changes, so they take far less time.

So now I can sleep again, secure in the knowledge that, if the worst should happen, I need have no worries about missing a deadline because of the two days necessary to fully restore my system.  I need only replace the hard drive (if that is what fails) and boot from the C6 to have everything restored to its pristine condition in a few hours.

Now that is the best Christmas present ever…

My thanks goes to Darryl, at the Storage Appliance Corporation ‘s Order Processing Section for making my unexpected purchase so easy; and my apologies need to be expressed to anyone who is expecting Santa to arrive, on time, this year.

Whilst over the Atlantic, the UPS pilot entered into an argument with a fat, white bearded, fellow regarding whom was best suited to deliver my C6 in time for Christmas.

In this instance, as the following photograph shows, the UPS pilot won…

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By the way, if you are thinking of ordering your own C6 for Christmas, you might like to bear in mind that, if you purchase the 1TB version like I did, HMG will sting you for another £36.13 in VAT and import duties.

Nevertheless, it is a very small price to pay for complete peace of mind…

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